The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough
In the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia, stands as the last human city on Earth. The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures. The planet’s refugees flock to Darwin, where a space elevator—created by the architects of this apocalypse, the Builders—emits a plague-suppressing aura.
Skyler Luiken has a rare immunity to the plague. Backed by an international crew of fellow “immunes,” he leads missions into the dangerous wasteland beyond the aura’s edge to find the resources Darwin needs to stave off collapse. But when the Elevator starts to malfunction, Skyler is tapped—along with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma—to solve the mystery of the failing alien technology and save the ragged remnants of humanity.
Skyler and his team are immune to the virus that has devastated humanity, giving them a distinct advantage in their scavenging. His crew is hired by a scientist to find data cubes that will assist in top secret research. But they’re captured upon returning, as a power struggle brews within Darwin. To make matters worse, the aura that suppresses the outside virus seems to be failing as mysterious outbreaks occur within the city and elevator. And the advanced aliens that created the elevator years ago may be returning.
Hough’s gritty, futuristic world is reminiscent of Blade Runner. Humanity has grown desperate and cramped in one lone city, while the rest of the world decays. The Darwin Elevator is an exciting and engaging scifi thriller. The characters are well-developed, with depth and intrigue. First in a trilogy, the suspense and mystery made for a fast-paced story that was hard to put down. Captivating and surprising, I eagerly await the next installment.